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Lesson Plan

Myth and Truth: The "First Thanksgiving"

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Myth and Truth: The "First Thanksgiving"

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology






  • Internet access to the Websites or printouts of the pages from those sites. (If you prefer, a complete copy of "Of Plymouth Plantation" by William Bradford can be used in lieu of the excerpts available on the Web. The piece is available in most American Literature anthologies.)

  • Thanksgiving entry on the ReadWriteThink calendar

  • General classroom supplies (paper, pens or pencils, chart paper or board, and so forth)

  • (Optional) Texts that explore the relationship between colonists and the Wampanoag, and details about the "first Thanksgiving." Possibilities include reference books, encyclopedias, and specific texts such as the following:

    • Barth, Edna. 1975. Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of Thanksgiving Symbols. New York: Clarion Books.

    • Kamma, Anne. 2001. If You Were at the First Thanksgiving. New York: Scholastic.

    • Grace, Catherine O'Neill, and Margaret M. Bruchac with Plimoth Plantation. 2001. 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

    • McGovern, Ann. 1993. If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620. New York: Scholastic.

    For additional suggestions, see Slapin, Beverly, and Doris Seale. 1992. Through Indian Eyes: The Native Experience in Books for Children. Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers.

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  • Gather books and Internet printouts, if necessary. Because students will work in small groups, create a copy of the printouts for each group if computer access is not available. Provide a copy of books for each group if resources allow. Groups may have slightly different reference resources (for instance, encyclopedias from different publishers), but all groups should have relatively the same collection of materials on hand. Naturally, you can encourage sharing among groups in the case of scarcer resources.

  • Make copies of the Common Myths about the "First Thanksgiving" handout and the presentation rubric for all students or prepare overheads or chart paper with the information.

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